Pans, spices and chopped chicken portions were rolled out at the 1st Colonial Grill’s al fresco dining area. Before having lunch, we’re gonna have a cooking demo of one of Legazpi City’s premiere restaurant’s bestseller, tinutungang manok.
The restaurant is located just a few blocks away from Legazpi’s city center. I remember checking this place out almost exactly a year ago to have a taste of their famous, or should I say infamous, sili ice cream. I’m not sure if it’s also included in our menu today, but I’m excited nonetheless.
Our group was seated at the mezzanine of the restaurant, which quite honestly was too small for us. To be fair to 1st Colonial Grill, the PHILTOA group was like almost a classroom big. I would’ve preferred to sit and dine at their leather-upholstered booths located on the ground floor, which were really just inviting guests to recline and wait until served with their orders.
The group congregated on the ground floor and the cooking session began in earnest. Headed by 1st Colonial Grill’s always smiling head chef; ingredients got mixed and chickens got fried. Alright, I’ll stop pretending; I’m really sorry, but I got lost on how tinutungang manok is cooked. I’m good at eating but I know zilch about cooking, haha.
So I guess it’d be better if we proceed to the eating part, right? Right.
1st Colonial Grill prepared a slew of their bestsellers for us. We started with their baby back ribs which were just okay. I’m really not that fond of this dish, so I guess that explains why.
Next up was their tinapa fried rice. I can’t even begin to tell you how good this is. I’ve always preferred fried rice over steamed ones, but this just takes the cake. The concoction is a mix of sliced portions of tomatoes, salted duck eggs, the usual garlic and spring onions, bits of longanisa, strips of green mangoes and minced tinapas.
It combines for a perfect mix of sweetness, sourness and saltiness; I was absolutely bowled over.
The Filipino fave kare-kare was next on our table. If looks could win, 1st Colonial Grill’s version of it would’ve already won it. But alas, looks can be deceiving; I really didn’t like it much. Most probably because of the too salty bagoong that came along with it.
They also served us with the strangest kind of sumans or ibos if you must. It looked ordinary on the outside, but take a bite and you’d be surprised to find it stuffed with either Bicol Express or Guinobatan Longanisa. I was only able to try the former and surprisingly didn’t like it. I was looking for the longanisa version but they’re gone faster than I can italize longanisa, so I guess they’re pretty good.
Other bestsellers like their buko chopseuy, vegetarian spring rolls and crispy tilapia fillet came and went; but the dish that really left an impression on me the most was the last one that was served; Pasta Bicolana.
Mixed in white sauce over spaghetti pasta, Pasta Bicolana is sprinkled with cheese (parmesan?) and longanisa bits from Guinobatan. You can guess that this dish is spicy. But get that straight, extremely spicy. And I mean extremely extremely spicy. You have been forewarned.
Not a few from our group were unable to finish their servings of this dish, but for people who love spicy food, this one’s for you. I absolutely loved it, I was able to finish three servings.
For desserts, the ice cream that put 1st Colonial Grill on the Philippine map was served; the infamous sili ice cream. We were told there were three levels of spiciness for this ice cream. I would’ve loved to try its spiciest version, but we were served with only the mildest one.
The sili ice cream is surprisingly not spicy at all. It tastes almost like a regular ice cream, but as it melts in your mouth and you start to swallow, the spiciness will suddenly hit you. But it isn’t spicy like siling labuyo is spicy; it’s more like a warmness that descends down your throat, much like the effect of a liquor shot.
1st Colonial Grill is a mixed bag for me; there were dishes that were simply okay, there were some that I actually didn’t like, and then there were a few that were absolutely fantastic. I would go back to this restaurant even just for their tinapa fried rice and Pasta Bicolana. Absolutely absolutely awesome dishes. And for desserts, who can forget their sili ice cream!
1st Colonial Grill
Address: Old Albay District, Rizal Street, Legazpi City
Contact Number: (052) 483-1212
GPS Coordinates: +13° 8' 32.07", +123° 45' 3.77"
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